Talking Trash About the Cannabis Industry

By Alyssa Karpick

Recent conversations and legislative actions have put the cannabis industry under intense scrutiny. From marijuana product waste, packaging requirements and challenges associated with indoor greenhouse growing, opportunities exist at every turn to enhance the sustainability of the cannabis industry. With a hyper-focus on the newly emerging sector’s actions and standards it is setting for itself, select market leaders have stepped up to the challenge of moving the industry towards greater sustainability.

Amy Andrle, Co-Owner of Denver dispensary and cultivation L’Eagle Services, emphasized that for cannabis growers sustainability begins at the cultivation stage. “Consider growing in a non-greenhouse environment. Frequently examine the lighting techniques and wastewater management your business is using and determine if both are energy efficient. What was best practice a few years ago may not be best practice now,” Andrle said.

Ren Gobris, Founder and Co-Owner of marijuana waste management service Kind Redesigned, believes growers need to be adaptable and increase their sustainable measures. “Be open to working with regulators,” Gobris said. Kind Redesigned repurpose cannabis waste into products such as plant loving probiotic teas for the benefit of future grow operations that both home growers and cultivation facilities can avail of. While services such as these can be utilized to go green, Gobris also suggests additional simple tasks for dispensaries. “Something as straightforward as conducting an energy audit and following the recommendations. Always ask: are you doing enough? Could you do more?”

Grant Parsons, Sales Manager at Alpine Waste & Recycling noted that differences between markets can affect how environmentally friendly the services can be. “From the packaging size and materials to labeling requirements, there are a host of different issues that affect the sustainability of the packaging alone,” Parsons said. Consumers can play their part in keeping the industry environmentally friendly by taking a few steps. “Research what options are available in your local market. Some states have compostable material collection services like Alpine Waste & Recycling in Denver. It’s important to recycle everything you can, including certain types of plastics, cardboard and organic matter where possible.”

Laurie Johnson, Executive Director at Colorado Association for Recycling suggests that consumers’ choices will ultimately influence sustainability within the cannabis industry. “Make informed choices. Choose products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Always check the labels when purchasing products to see if they can be recycled. If possible, reduce the amount of waste you consume with what you purchase, and where you purchase your products,” she said.

Andrle, Gobris, Parsons and Johnson will join other cannabis sustainability leaders to discuss best practices and the outlook for the industry at the 2nd annual Cannabis Sustainability Symposium  in Denver on October 17-18. The Symposium is hosted by the Cannabis Certification Council with in-kind support from Denver Environmental Health. For more information, click here.

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